ThreeZero’s Fallout 4 Power Armor Puts West Tek to Shame [Review]
Bethesda has always been rather reticent to license out its properties for merchandising, and to an extent I can appreciate wanting to maintain that kind of control. As a person who constantly wants to display his fandom to the detriment of every shelf and open space in a home, it's been frustrating. For whatever reason, the release of Fallout 4 brought about a change in policy for Bethesda. It wasn't long after the release of Fallout 4 that we soon saw Bethesda properties finally getting their moment in the collectible sun.
If ever there was a video game that was deserving of its own action figure line, it's Fallout. The series has been around for decades, and the current incarnation under Bethesda is both widely acclaimed and a fan-favorite. Like many other Fallout fans, I picked up the Funko Pops and looked over the company's action figure offerings. They were solid efforts, but in my eyes, not quite enough for my own investment in this game franchise. For the hundreds and hundreds of hours I'd spent in the wastes, I craved something more substantial. Fortunately for me, so did ThreeZero.
ThreeZero's no slouch in the action figure department. While the company creates high-end (read: pricey) collectibles, the resulting product is almost always a terrific facsimile of the game, comic or film character ThreeZero is trying to replicate. That kind of attention to detail is why this Fallout 4 T-45 Power Armor figure stands out so much more than the others that have been released. Well, that and the discrepancy in size. Other Fallout collectibles to this point have hovered in around the 6" tall mark, but there's nothing small about ThreeZero's version. This 14.5" tall beast is a massive testament to the armor developed by West Tek and worn by United States soldiers before, during, and after the Great War.
One of the new gameplay mechanics introduced in Fallout 4 was the ability to craft and develop your own personalized suit of Power Armor. You're able to do this with frames you find out in the wild, which you can then add bits and parts to as you find them in your journey across the greater metropolitan Boston area. Like your character in the game, ThreeZero's Power Armor starts with the frame. Though you can see the Vault Dweller inside the shell, the body is locked inside. Or rather, the illusion of the body is locked inside. While a head, hands and feet an be spotted through the various openings in the frame, the body of the default male protagonist doesn't exist beyond those instances. It's a small detail that ThreeZero nails though.
Of course, it would have been great to have the default female portrait included as well, especially considering a second body type wouldn't have been needed. Perhaps that's something ThreeZero has in mind for the eventual second entry in this line (more armors from the game are possible). Including just the male head isn't a dealbreaker by any means, and that's doubly true considering most collectors will likely keep the actual T-45 helmet on the body instead of the swappable human head. It's a great sculpt, and captures the face of Fallout's default lead rather well. I dare say it has even more detail than the actual in-game model, but that all depends on your graphics card I suppose.
That eye for detail continues through the rest of the frame. There's a lot of intricate machinery, and that's one thing ThreeZero's always excelled at capturing perfectly. The company's Titanfall figures are a testament to that, but even here on more personal mech suit, it's hard not to be in awe of all the intricacies. Head to toe, the frame is captured perfectly. The valves and gaskets give it an air of functionality, even if you have no idea what they do, and the lifts in the feet and extensions in forearms make complete sense for a battle suit. The rubber body suit beneath all the hulking metal parts is flexible and feels strong enough to last. It's also situated well enough to avoid getting pinched in any joints, so the worry of tearing is minimal.
Throughout the frame, you'll notice some magnets, which is part of how all that armor attaches to the figure. There are many Power Armor variations you can make, but for the purposes of this figure, ThreeZero stuck with one of the more famous "basic" models, the T-45. It's not as sexy as something like the X-01, but it's been around for this long because it's reliable and gets the job done. You can assemble as much or as little of the armor pieces onto the frame as you'd like, and it lends an air of customization to the figure just like you have in Fallout 4. Theoretically, when and if other Power Armors are released by ThreeZero, you can mix and match the parts as you desire to make your physical toy look as much like your virtual character as possible.
Putting the pieces on and taking them off is easy already, but ThreeZero has stated the final versions of the figure will make that task even easier. The prototype figure didn't provide much trouble in this area, but for one spot: his butt. There's a small piece of armor covering the character's behind, and try as I might, I could not get that little plate to detach from the frame. Elsewhere I had no issues. Not all of the parts attach magnetically, and some do snap into place. Despite this being a nearly $400 figure, I never felt the need to be delicate as it all felt so sturdy. The seams remained tight even after multiple attempts at putting them together and taking them apart, and all the clips stayed sturdy. I can't imagine constantly taking this apart, but it's good to know that you won't have to worry about things getting worn down after just a few uses.
The armor has a lovely patina to it all, and the paint and sculpt job are just excellent. You get a true sense that this behemoth has been around for decades or more, and that it's seen its share of action. There isn't any scoring from laser fire or explosives, but there's a tangible sense of wear present. The Power Armor pieces also look weighty and strong even though they're incredibly light in this form. As you attach them to the frame, you see just how much they bulk up the character. That sense of size and mass isn't quite equated the same way when you're looking at the Power Armor in the game. It takes seeing it in the physical realm to truly grasp just how impressive this stuff is in that universe. ThreeZero's done a nice job realizing that vision.
Once you get the whole figure together, it's still just as flexible and poseable as it was without all the armor attached. That's not an easy task to accomplish, and I'm not sure what kind of wizardry ThreeZero worked to make that happen, but it was clearly the darkest of arts. Okay, the wizardry boils down to making sure the armor doesn't cover up any of the joints, but you'd be surprised how many companies get that wrong. For a figure that has this much girth, it's very agile. You won't be able to put it into any three-point stances (thank God), but there's enough flexibility to get creative. For the most part.
Try as you might, you won't be able to get the figure to hold the included AER-9 laser rifle in any way that indicates the person wielding it means business. The Power Armor hands are too large to grip it properly, though you can fudge it well enough, and there's no way to have the gun balanced in both hands. That's one of the miracles of the game is that Bethesda doesn't really have to worry about real physical space. In-game, that character holds the gun just fine because the constrictions of actual armor aren't there. Yes, the development team still has to create the animations and such that show it off, but they can fudge it when they need to. You can't do that with a physical toy.
The laser rifle does look incredibly accurate though, and it too has a tremendous paint job. The battery cartridge isn't removable, but I'd rather have the weapon being a solid piece anyway. Even though that battery isn't removable, the Fusion Core in the back of the Power Armor does pop out. It's a small touch that's completely unnecessary, but one that fans will appreciate. The ThreeZero exclusive version will also include a mini-gun, but that was not included with our prototype figure. If it gets the same love and care that the rest of this figure did, it will undoubtedly be another great addition to an already stellar piece.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for a truly memorable Fallout collectible, ThreeZero has delivered the goods. It's not a cheap investment, but this isn't a mass market figure. This is a highly detailed, highly accurate recreation of one of gaming's most iconic armors. There's little to find fault with, and even the small grievances I have don't ruin the overall aesthetic one bit. ThreeZero's crafted the Fallout 4 collectible you've been waiting for, and I can only hope this is just the start of a larger line that brings even more Fallout greatness to my shelves.